What Spanbauer and My Dog Taught Me About Cliches

Tom Spanbauer calls cliched words and imagery received text. I know this because of a great essay Chuck Palahniuk wrote about Amy Hempel and minimalism. I try to be very aware of received text (including dying metaphors) in my work and when I’m asked to read or edit others’. Sometimes this obsession spills over into daily life.

One time on a walk, my dog uncharacteristically opted for a fire hydrant. I said, “Come on, boy, you’re better than that.” He rolled his eyes and told me to get the bag ready.

The moral of the story: no one likes cliches or literary snobs. Gently excise received text from the work and thoughts of those you love…

Spanbauer, Palahniuk, Hempel, and My Dog

Tom Spanbauer calls cliched words and imagery received text. I know this because of a great essay Chuck Palahniuk wrote about Amy Hempel and minimalism. I try to by hyperaware of received text in my work and when I’m reading manuscripts in workshop.

Case in point:  On a recent walk, when my dog moved to use a fire hydrant in typical cartoon fashion, I actually said to myself, “Come on, boy, you’re better than that.”

(Yeah, I’m in an MFA program).